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Friedrich der Große

Line drawing of Battleship Führer-imagine a humongous Bismarck!

Displacement Führer
122,000 tons(!)
Friedrich der Große
52,600 tons
Armament 4 x 2  21"
4 x 2  16"
Speed 30 knots30 knots
VTS Rating (10)   20   6 (6)   10   6

These ships are the various ever-enlarging "H-Class" ships that Hitler wanted as part of his "Z-Plan". Hitler loved big, armored things with huge guns, and thought capital ships gave prestige to a country's military, but he hated the sea and was easily seasick. He had little understanding of nautical strategems, though he often memorized small details of a ship with which to humiliate his admirals when they couldn't answer his every question. When Hitler demanded that the Fleet be scrapped in 1943 the only thing that appealed to his "reason" was that such an act would hand Britain a "victory" without them losing a man. The Friedrich der Große was a reasonable design and could have been built, but the Führer would have used up an entire year's worth of tank production equivalent in steel and workforce!! Fat chance of convincing Hitler to do that! It would still be the largest warship ever made, if it had ever existed at all. The designers who appealed to Hitler's almost prurient interest in huge power objects were obviously just trying to stave off being sent to the Eastern Front!

In "Grand Fleet" the Friedrich der Große is launched with much fanfare, Hitler attending as usual. This "Tirpitz" with larger guns was almost undoubtedly the world's best battleship at the time of completion in 1942, rivalling the Japanese Satsuma and the now-defunct French Alsace. Before any sister ships were laid down Hitler insisted on an even larger ship with the unheard-of gun caliber of 21 inches (probably just to go the Japanese one step further)! Friedrich der Große's loss in battle to an obsolescent Russian (!!) battleship made Hitler furious and he insisted that this new design be unsinkable.

Führer   was an enormous ship, needing so much draft that most of the rivermouth harbors of Germany could not allow her to dock. Her mixed Diesel/steam propulsion was fed to propellors in a reinforced "tunnel drive" so that no torpedo could prematurely disable her. Steering was done by rudders in conjunction with the retractable Voith-Schneider steering propellors mounted in the hull. Special provision-loading "troopships" followed her around to her ports-of-call just to keep her supplied and to take personnel ashore. Hitler took Mussolini out on "his" ship for a "dinner cruise" in the Baltic, and was pleased that, for the first time, a ship held steady enough for him to not feel the least bit queasy. (His admirals had promised him that the Führer's great size and beam would eliminate most rolling and pitching, but since when did Hitler ever listen to them anyway?).

After working up with the Fleet off Norway, Führer rested in Tromsø's fjord and waited for an Allied convoy to appear. The Kreigsmarine had botched a previous encounter with an Allied battlefleet in the North Sea and so infuriated Hitler that he sent forth all his remaining heavy ships to do battle and "die proudly" or be scuttled. He called on "his" ship to come lead the Kreigsmarine to victory. Führer and two smaller ships (what wasn't smaller??) battled the USS Montana, Saint Andrew, and two other British battleships. Predictably, the Allies ignored the lesser ships and concentrated on Führer, a huge target hard to miss. Führer blew up the Montana and two other battleships, meanwhile taking many hits. It looked like the Führer would make a clean sweep of the Allied warships when a salvo from Saint Andrew hit her, and Führer disintegrated and vanished. Later on it was discovered that Norwegian patriots had planted charges under her keel and magazines while in Tromsø. Führer had left port five hours ahead of the time set to detonate and the shell hit from Saint Andrew had set it off. In spite of the great "victory" of destroying three large battleships of their enemy, the Kreigsmarine had "failed" Hitler once again, and he fired every admiral except Dönitz the next day.

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